Republicans in Indiana announced on Thursday that revisions were made to the controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which originally gave business owners the right to discriminate towards LGBT customers. According to reports, the bill now prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation.
“What was intended as a message of inclusion, inclusion of all religious beliefs, was interpreted as a message of exclusion, especially for the LGBT community. Nothing could be further from the truth, but it was clear the perception had to be addressed,” Indiana House Speaker Brian Bosma said.
The revisions were made in an effort to end misconceptions about the contents of the legislation.
The newly revised Religious Freedom Restoration act prohibits Indiana business from refusing to “offer or provide services, facilities, use of public accommodations, goods, employment, or housing” to customers based on their race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity or ancestry.
“That’s a huge policy change here,” Bosma said.
Indiana became the subject of national criticism after Gov. Mike Pence signed the original bill last week, with many states and cities banning state-funded travel. Supporters of the legislation, however, insisted that the bill was never meant to discriminate in the first place.
“It was never intended to discriminate against anyone,” Senate President Pro Tem David Long said. “That perception led to the national protests we've seen.”
Bosma said at a press conference that the revised proposal would be presented to lawmakers, and apologized to the state’s residents for damage caused by reaction to the bill.
“Hoosier hospitality had to be restored,” he said. “Is the damage able to be turned back? That remains to be seen.”
Photo Credit: charlotteobserver.com, Darryl Smith/Indianapolis Monthly